As the Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan gets closer, most Muslims parents around the world pay great attention and time to afford different types of foods that they will consume to compensate for the long fasting hours.
Before the arrival of this month, many of them may dedicate a two-day period to wandering around the markets to buy the necessary food commodities as a stock for Ramadan.
Usually, Muslim Arab’s popular markets witness unprecedented and large-scale crowds at that time, from customers who mainly focus on affording enough stock of meat and chicken in their refrigerators.
However, the situation in 2017 is somewhat different in Egypt, as the country is currently suffering from unprecedented price hikes due to recent economic measures implemented by the government, among them the devaluation of the Egyptian pound last November.
On an annual basis, the Egyptian popular markets for vegetables, meat and chicken was traditionally targeted by large numbers of Egyptian shoppers before the arrival of the holy month; shoppers used to be buy intensively the stock that will be sufficient for the entire month, saving themselves the trouble of doing so later, when they would be fasting.
However, a remarkable shrinkage in sales has dominated the 2017 season, especially with those buying meat and chicken.
Egypt Independent wandered through a number of Egypt’s suburbs on Tuesday, interviewing both merchants and customers to get an overview of prices for meats and chickens, in addition to the rate of selling and buying.
Inside one of Egypt’s popular districts Sayeda Zeinab, Egypt Independent met with meat merchant Gamal Ashraf who stressed that markets are now suffering from a shrinkage due to the unparalleled wave of high prices.
He added that the price hikes have pushed him to replace selling local meat in his store by imported ones that were less expensive.
“The sales of meat ratios are witnessing a decrease. People are no more buying the local meat that its price reaches 130 L.E per the single kg, while the imported one that came from Brazil is estimated by 70 L.E per the single kg” he explained.
Moreover, Gamal noted that the emergence of the Egyptian Armed Forces’ vehicles that distribute subsidized imported meats has also left a negative impact on his trade.
He claimed that the distributed subsidized meats that are imported from Brazil are not efficient and tasty like the local one.
Similarly, Omaima El Nagar a housewife who is a resident of Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood asserted to Egypt Independent that the subsidized meats present at army vehicles are not as tasty as the local ones, so she resorted to buy the local expensive one whose price reaches LE120.
“I put a weekly nutrition schedule for Ramadan that will only include two meats meals per week; because, if I increase the meat share like the past year, there will be no money left to spend till the end of the month,” she explained.
In the same context, the prices of fresh chickens witnessed increase and reached 35 L.E per the single kg in the popular market of Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood.
Meanwhile, a poultry-seller based in Sayeda Zeinab’s popular market, Khalid Sharara informed Egypt Independent that ratio of people who came in similar period last year [prior Ramadan by a week] was more than 2017’s one that is badly damaged due to the high prices.
“Last year prices of the poultry’s single kg reached 22 L.E, this year there is an increase by more than 10 L.E , so people do not buy with the same quantities as they no more have enough money to live” he said.
To combat price rises, the Egyptian government followed certain measures that were present in affording alternatives through creating state-run markets that are providing less expensive food commodities.
Recently, the Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail inaugurated a state-run market entitled ‘Ahlan Ramadan’ that aims to provide less expensive food goods to Egyptians throughout all the governorates, with the beginning of the month of Ramadan.
Moreover, the Egyptian Armed Forces received direct orders from the Presidency to spread far and wide the affiliated moving vehicles that sell food commodities for less, compared to external markets.
Moving to one of Cairo’s most stylish and affluent neighborhoods of Garden City, the situation was somewhat similar, especially concerning the wave of exaggerated high prices for food commodities.
Egypt Independent spoke to one of the managing officials of a majestic food store to get an overview on the sale movement and the turnout of people for buying meat and poultry before Ramadan.
The official, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that his store was selling meat and chicken to the residents of Garden City in 2016 ; however, this year, he decided to suspend selling meat as the residents are now heading to buy meat from nearby middle-class neighborhoods that sell them for less.
Similarly, Ali Hesham, a resident of Garden city asserted that he and other residents in this affluent neighborhood are suffering from the greed of meat merchants, prompting them to buy from a nearby neighborhood that sell at lower prices.
“Meats merchants are now selling the single kg of meat in Garden city for LE160!! This price is higher than any other place around Egypt; there is about LE50 that they pick in our pocket with their greed,” he concluded.